Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Israel Seeks Advice From A Nazi

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's Foreign Minister, sat in a large green leather chair in a secure conference room at Ben Gurion International Airport on the outskirts of Lod southeast of Tel Aviv.   The conference room was part of a small complex of low buildings connected by underground tunnels to the main terminal as well as a smaller terminal used by dignitaries and other Israeli government officials.  Israel had four El Al Boeing jets retro-fitted for special government use, one of which was ready to depart with Avigdor Lieberman on board.  But Lieberman received a phone call on his Blackberry that Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, wanted a word prior to his departure.  Lieberman was instructed to wait at the airport until Netanyahu arrived.  Lieberman drank green tea from a paper cup, prepared for him by his aide.

The door swung open.  Two men with short black hair wearing identical light blue suits, each with his right hand tucked underneath the opposing breast of the jacket wear Lieberman knew was a holstered pistol.  The men took two steps into the conference room.  They were shoulder to shoulder.  They each surveyed the room, both nodding to Lieberman, who nodded back.  The blue suits glanced at each other, gave some sign, and then separated each taking a sidestep.  Between the two entered Benjamin Netanyahu.  The blue suit to Netanyahu's left stepped back, left the room, closing the door behind him.  Lieberman had witnessed this sort of security protocol hundreds of times.  But Netanyahu was particularly cautious, entering his own home at times with the same protocol.

Lieberman stood.


Lieberman sat.

You want tea?  My aide...

(cutting Lieberman off)
Please...I have five minutes.

Lieberman loathed Netanyahu.  Though he understood why he pandered to the Americans, it was money Israel received afterall from them, it sickened Lieberman that Israel had to beg anyone.  And more importantly, it turned Lieberman's stomach that Netanyahu made overtures to the Palestinians.  Lieberman knew the world considered Netanyahu hawkish on all military and security matters, Lieberman considered Netanyahu a coward.

I am advising you to cancel this trip.

You came here to give me advice?

It is ill-conceived and unnecessary.  You already know what
he's going to say.

I do not.  In fact, I have never talked to him about such issues.

The risk is too great.

No one knows about him except us.  And my movements are
well covered. The manifest has an alias.  The crew is IDF.

It is sloppy.  The Americans...

Oh fuck the Americans.  You think they are going to know?
The CIA is a bunch of idiots.

Netanyahu took a deep breath.  There was no talking to Avigdor Lieberman.  Though he took comfort that such a maniac was his Foreign Minister, keeping an eye on everyone who would destroy Israel, Lieberman had no class, no sense of political tact.

I will hang you out to take bullets if this gets out.

I take bullets all the time.

Netanyahu paused for a moment, thought about saying something, then decided otherwise. He turned, nodded to the blue suit, who opened the door.  Netanyahu left, followed by the blue suit, closing the door from behind, leaving Lieberman alone.  Avigdor Lieberman sipped the last of his green tea.



Lieberman was in the passenger seat of a 1998 faded-red Toyota Land Cruiser.  The driver was a Mossad officer that arranged for the car a day before Lieberman's arrival in Asuncion, Paraguay.  The car was on a paved road that had dozens of pot holes, requiring the Mossad officer to pay close attention, weaving around holes.

The house was on the shore of Laguna Naick-neck, a small lake northwest of Asuncion.  The house was occupied by one man.  Lieberman had been here only once before, about a decade ago.  Herman Ziereis was the man, the son of Franz Ziereis, the Commandant of Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Mauthausen, Austria, about 20 kilometers east of Linz, the town where Adolf Hitler spent his youth.

It was a warm Autumn day in Paraguay, the sun glinting off the lake under a cloudless sky.  Paraguay was a forgotten land, off the radar of the world stage which permitted old Nazis to find hidden nooks to make a life.

The door to the three-room stone house was open.  It was one story, a thatched roof, a propane tank hugging one side, and a 1977 green Plymouth parked on gravel under a sycamore tree.

The Mossad officer lit a cigarette as he ambled to the lake shoreline, and Avigdor Lieberman opened the wood door.  The sunlight filled the room.  On a wheelchair sat Herman Ziereis.  Lieberman paused.  The years since Lieberman last saw Ziereis had not been kind.  Lieberman firmly believed that the guilt, the Ziereis family guilt filled al the cellular tissue of Herman Ziereis, aging him each day.  Ziereis was a man of few words.  He had learned not to volunteer anything.  He was cautious, paranoid, suspicious and generally frightened of all human life.  The solitude of the Laguna Naick-neck, with the abundant birdlife, was the only offering of mother nature that Ziereis tolerated.  But the occasional visit from a Paraguayan or Israeli official was a necessary evil.  Afterall, it was both of these nations that permitted him to survive, peacefully.

Lieberman sat in a makeshift chair made of tree limbs.  It was not comfortable.

You like my chair?

You made it?

A tree fell in a storm.  Firewood and furniture.

You are resourceful.

Lieberman was disgusted by Ziereis, but he tried to remind himself that it was Herman's father, Franz, that was the real evil force behind Mauthausen.  The Nazis used to say that Auschwitz was a picnic compared to Mauthausen.  The German Nazis which managed Auschwitz and the other Polish and German camps was a clinical evil, part of the job of being a Nazi, one that may have been fulfilling, but nevertheless a job.  However, the Austrian Nazi seemed to relish, almost salivate like rabid dogs, the horror they daily brought upon the residents of Mauthausen.  Lieberman had a particular revulsion for Austrians, who from the moment of Hitler's Anschluss, the German word for "link-up," the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938, expressed an orgasm of elation at marrying their northern neighbor.  The Austrians, or at least most of them, expressed joy at being annexed.  What people would be joyous at such a thing, thought Lieberman.  It is as if the Austrians wanted to be the slave-dogs of the Germans, doing their bidding, torturing the Jews of Austria, not to mention the Spanish and the Russian captives that were held at Mauthausen.

Why this visit?

You thought of us Jews as animals, rats.   But
we have proven to be the stronger people.

I will not quibble.

But my nation is dealing with true animals,
 a people who are barely human, a people
who would think nothing of blowing up
their own infants if they
could also harm a Jew.

Ziereis was not certain where this was going.

You are referring to the Palestinians?

They are dogs.

So you have said.

You had management problems, public
relations difficulties with treating
Jews as if they were animals.

More my father.  I was young.

How did he manage this problem?

I trust you are not recording this?

Of course not.

Ziereis knew there was nothing he could do anyway.  Lieberman could probably instruct the Mossad officer to put a bullet in his head without consequence.  His Paraguayan charges would not care.  In fact, there was no one left who would care about his death.

Your country seems to be managing your
dogs quite well.  You are creating a
national crisis with Iran.  That crisis
permits you to do whatever you wish
with your dogs.

Lieberman did not like the suggestion that the Palestinians were his dogs.

They are dogs of the world.  They are
barely human.  They are not just
my dogs.

As you wish...the point is at this moment
your nation is served by the world's
financial crisis, with Iran, with any
other crisis you can manufacture.
You have more of a problem today
than we had, you realize.

Yes.  The media is 24-7.  The damn internet.
But you are not telling me anything
I do not know already.  What I want
to know is how did you convince the
doubters, the people, your fellow
Austrians, who might have had
second thoughts about the camps,
about the denial of rights, about the torture?

There was a family dinner once where
my father was going on about the Jews.
As he ate the roasted turkey that he so
craved, he said that if you have five
Jews present, you must kill them all,
that you leave none to survive, to eradicate
the memory, you preclude the passing
of the story to others, to the Jewish children,
or to others who might not understand.

Yes, well, decidedly more difficult today.
Mobile phones all have cameras, everything
is in the damn sunshine.

This is why there are trees, my good man.
Forests.  Places out of the light.  We had
caves just a stone's throw from our camp.
You enjoy your kill out of the sunlight.

That requires planning.  It is deliberate.

Ahhh, but if you are really going to be honest,
and competent about your project, you must
be deliberate.  Yes, there are risks.  But you
can always deny, obfuscate.  My father got quite
good at such a thing early on when it was more
difficult to manage public opinion.  But as opinion
shifted, as a new generation of Austrians was raised
and taught that Jews were animals, then we...
then we let a little sun shine on the handiwork of

Lieberman knew that any deliberate killing of Palestinian dogs would be difficult to effectuate as an Israeli policy, even if undercover and concealed.

Lieberman noticed that Ziereis was starting to enjoy this conversation, and it unsettled Lieberman because he knew that the smirk on this Nazi was due to thoughts of tortured Jews.

I think I have had enough.

Lieberman stood.

My father could have used you.

Lieberman had the urge to spit on Ziereis's face.

I am better than your father.

I am sure you are.

Lieberman turned to leave.

I hope to see you again.

Ziereiss lied.  Lieberman did not respond.  He left the house, closing the door from behind.

(addressing the Mossad Officer)
Take me to the airport.

Lieberman got into the Toyota Land Cruiser.  As the Mossad officer pulled away, Lieberman thought that Ziereis was a waste of time.  Maybe it was a morbid interest in a dying Nazi that brought him here.  He did not need a Nazi to tell him how to handle Palestinians.

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